Customer relationships directly impact a business’s bottom line, and lasting rapports can power a business for decades. The management of these relationships requires the perfect combination of technology, business processes, and of course customers.
Building a strong customer relationship management (CRM) system that attains and retains customers is multi-faceted, and will require involvement from many parts of your company, from your sales team, to your marketing department, to your customer service representatives. Here is some advice to get you started.
Pre-built CRM systems are appealing because they are chock-full of fancy functions and features and come ready to deploy. Know what you need before you commit to a one-size-fits-all solution. Extra features might be more complex and come with a hefty price tag. Fully integrated modules such marketing automation and elaborate workflow features will take time to adapt.
Consider a solution that offers sufficient base functionality and allows easy customizations for your needs so that you can get exactly what you need at a cost that fits the size of your business today.
When implementing a CRM system, it goes without saying that it should be built with the customer in mind. Put customer interaction first by choosing a system that enables seamless integration between your lines of communication and CRM. When thinking about customer relationships in the long-term, choose a system that lets your sales, marketing and customer service departments access customers in a consistent and scalable way.
In the same way your team can use their smartphones to check email and make business-oriented phone calls, they expect to have access to customer information while on the move. Creating your CRM system to be mobile-user friendly not only meets an unspoken requirement in today’s on-the-go work environment, but also leads to great effectiveness. With mobile CRM, employees can access customer data and information any time they need to close a deal, whether in your office, or from home.
There is no better use case for gamification than in the sales environment. Your sales team is likely competitive in nature, so turn sales into a game by incorporating leaderboards, rewards, and recognition into your CRM system.
In the March 2014 CSO Insights’ Annual Sales Performance Optimization Study, the number of sales organizations leveraging CRM increased from 48.7% a decade ago, to 82.9% today. Yet CRM Magazine reported a drop in the percentage of salespeople who actively use CRM solutions as part of their daily workflow. To reap the benefits of a CRM system, involve your sales, marketing, customer service and leadership team in both the decision-making process, as well as the initial rollout. Give employees a platform to ask questions and provide feedback regarding processes and workflow. Your guidance on the front end will lead to greater adoption rates down the road.
While customer relationships are the bread and butter of your business, it’s smarter to roll out a new CRM system piece by piece instead of overwhelming users with too many features at once. Start by giving employees what they need, and add features one or two at a time based on feedback.
One of the key benefits of a CRM system is having access to customer data and trends. If this data is of poor quality, your team will be hesitant to trust the system, which could lead to low adoption all around. Set the standard for accurate data input from the get-go by holding every team member responsible for the data they collect and enter.
If you have key business processes across other areas of your company that are working, like a cloud-based PBX system or external reporting tools, don’t adopt a CRM system that fails to integrate with these key systems. Your executives and employees should see your CRM system as another layer to a robust system of technologies, rather than an opposing system to the already-deployed technologies.
When creating and deploying a new CRM system, you must deploy with both customers and employees in mind. While customer relationships will ultimately turn a profit, it’s your employees who will drive CRM adoption to manage key relationships and close deals. Start slowly, encourage adoption and don’t forget that success will come when the relationships are built—not necessarily when they are first established. Use your CRM system to bridge the gap between attaining new customers and building relationships with customers that will keep your business profitable for years to come.
More expert advice about Information Technology
Photo Credits: tashatuvango/bigstock.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com